Friday, May 27, 2005


I have visited the Imperial War Museum today, and like all exhibits like it, it has done my head in.

Pulled in by the information about The Children's War exhibit, which shows aspects of WWII for children in Britian during The Blitz. The personal accounts, the artefacts. You can't help but be affected.

But upstairs there is a film about Crimes Against Humanity. A topic that always interests and upsets me, I left with that numb, hollow and all encompassing sadness. How? Why?

The experience has not been helped, or has perhaps been enhanced, by my current book, Fools Rush In. I am being inspired by this one actually. A tale of a lost and emotionally injured man finding himself in the mission to assist with the distribution of food and supplies, and human contact and hope, in Sarajevo in 1993. Amazing.

I would love to do that. Or at least feel like I was making some meaningful difference, somewhere.

I need to seek out some volunteer work.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Work can be fun???

I had such a fun night out yesterday - for work, with my client. I almost feel guilty for having such a good time, and being paid for it!!

Firstly, yesterday I had lunch with 'Nae in Putney. I am working my way around the city and the tube, and finding my way around just fine. Great to catch up with Renee for chats.

I then met my client at her office (this is my view on the walk to her office), and we drove over to the East End, where we met mates of her's and had a yummy dinner at the S & M Cafe (Sausage and Mash!!! What were you thinking!!??).

After this we headed to The Spitz, which is a really cool venue! We saw Mara Carlyle, who was fabulous, and (The Real) Tuesday Weld, who were brilliant. Very jazzy, funky and cool, and very funny.

Driving my drunken cargo home, I got to drive over Tower Bridge under a glowing full moon. What a cool day! And I was on the clock!!

Normally I would rather a shitty day of travel than a good day at work - yesterday was a rare exception!!

It's nights and days like these that are making me love being over here in London. And I am so excited about all the things coming up for the summer - even if the weather doesn't meet expectations!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Dying of tiredness

My client has had a pretty big weekend, and I am so tired!! Have tried to have a nanna nap today, but it doesn't work anymore. I used to be able to nod off when I was back at Medley - with no trouble at all! But I can't now! Boo!

Had thought that the chance to live out someone else's life for awhile would be fun, and it is and it isn't. I have been out to dinner, out to a pub and a girlie poker night, been down to Canary Wharf and visited a tall ship called the Lord Nelson, and have been hanging out with the London Samba band - as my client's PA, or whatever. It's actually awkward at times. I mean, can you imagine going out to lunch with a mate, but having someone tag along? But that person actually needs to be there, cos with me, my client can't get out and about. It's a strange situation.

It's also hard being the designated driver. I think staying out late for me is helped along with a few beverages. But sober, 3am is not so fun. And I am probably more of a danger driving around London half asleep than my client who has only had a couple of glasses of wine all night. But that's the job.

Everyday at the moment I walk through a tunnel under the train tracks, and pass a homeless man all set up there, asleep. I actually always peek to check that there is movement - but could I really use my recently updated first aide training if it was needed? Anyway, he has made me think - how do you get there? I mean, I reckon I am a week away from asking him if I can have a couple of bits of cardboard, unrolling my Turkish Mafia sleeping bag, and joining him. Luckily, pay day is on Friday, so I will at least last a few more weeks. But will this battle with money, or lack there of, ever get sorted?! Do I really need the intestinal upset that is the stress of knowing that I may run out of money before pay day!!??

Anyway. How about those Hawks, hey!! AC is The Man! Teamwork, team bonding...and Willo is kicking butt!!! Is making me a bit homesick, actually.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

So much more to see...

I am hanging about in London at the moment with loads of free time, as my current client works! Very cool. And it's actually a pretty good assignment so far - client is lovely, and it almost doesn't feel like work at all! I am here in this assignment for 2 and a half weeks.

I caught up with Dom, finally, the other day for lunch and a catch up. Swapping care work stories, current poverty (as usual), and imposing-on-other-people's-good-hearts-for-places-to-sleep-when-not-working stories! Was so good to see her, and know that there is someone else I know out here, hanging around!

I was reading this on Caitlin's blog the other day, and thought I would check out my map...

Posted by Hello

According to this, I have visited (meaning stayed overnight - so my day trip to Mexico back in 1991 with the family is not counted, and stopovers in airports also not counted!) 14 countries thus far. That's just 6% of the world!!

So all my time of traveling, and all that travel related debt, has only amounted to me seeing and experiencing 6% of the great big wide world!! So much more to see and learn about! Wow!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A Night with Spacey and Monet!

After finishing up my assignment on Saturday, I headed back into London and to Nat's ultra cool and ultra modern apartment. (Thanks for letting me stay again!!) Always quite hyper when I finish work, we got ready for a very busy, cultural night out...

We met Caitlin and Jack for dinner, before all rushing off to see Kevin Spacey in The Philadelphia Story at The Old Vic. Mmmmm, Kevin Spacey!! He has such a presence on stage. The story is adapted from the Katherine Hepburn/Cary Grant film, and whilst dragged a bit for me in the middle, the final act was great! I really enjoyed it.

Once the play had finished, and final curtain call was over, the four of us jumped into a black cab to see the Turner Whistler Monet exhibition at the Tate Britian - for a late night session! With sunset one of my favourite images, these works of art captured so much of the light and atmosphere that makes dusk and dawn so magical. The depiction of light and it's interaction with fog and smog was captured here by these three artisits, who contributed to the development of Impressionism. Monet's Houses of Parliment: Effect of Sunlight in the Fog and Turner's pieces from the burning of the Houses of Parliment were mesmorising.

How's that for a culture packed evening!!

Yesterday Nat and I met Caitlin and Kimberley at the Columbia Road Flower Market for a wander. Later we headed to Battersea Park to met the boys and to soak up the sun (it's gorgeous over here at the moment - when the sun is out!) and wine. A pub meal and a few pints, and the weekend was over! I did manage to get a bit of colour though! All good!

Have a free day today, and then off to work again tomorrow. This next assignment is here in London, which sounds like lots of fun. Loads of free time during the day, and a busy social life to be part of! Doesn't sound like work at all!!

Before I dash off in search of a hairdresser, and a PC card, I have to mention the book I read while at work - The Time Traveler's Wife. It is so beautiful! Totally lived up to it's hype and much raved about status from others, this book just pulls you in and leads you along the love of the two characters, Henry and Clare. It's easily one of my favourite books now! Just wonderful.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


No, no! I'm not talking about the election this time! I have spelt that right. I am talking about real producing labour.

My client's sister has been in labour with her first baby for about 24 hours now, and since she lives just down the street, and I am the able-bodied driver, I have just had the job of getting expectant mother, jittery father-to-be, and my client and partner, down to the hospital, post haste!!

Have never been that close to a woman in labour before! Thought I could avoid it really, so as not to scare myself into the realities of such a predicament, and thus actually be able to consider having babies one day myself. When I grow up, of course. *wink*

Driving on the unfamiliar UK roads and weird round-a-bouts with a panting woman, in a riduculous amount of pain, sitting in the seat next to me, has been quite an experience!

No news yet though. Sounds like she will be in for a hell of a long night. Guesses are that it's a girl, given all the trouble. We'll see soon enough.

This live-in care job can certainly be a ride! I am temporarily involved in their people's lives, along for their ride! How bizarre!!

Happy Mother's Day, Mum! For Sunday in Australia! Can't not think of my poor mum, given the goings on! Love you!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Commonwealth democratic duty attempted

It's election day here in England, and having discovered that being a citizen of a Commonwealth country currently residing in the UK entitles me to have a vote, thanks to Caitlin's blog, I thought I would see if I could.

Alas, not being in the area of my "address", the polling booth here in Waterlooville wasn't about to let just any old Aussie vote, after all. Thought it was worth a try, seeing that most of the Brits I have talked to weren't going to bother. Non-compulsory voting over here surprised me - where did we get our system from?

When walking into the Polling Booth hoping to cast my vote, I was also hoping to be bombarded by manic pamplet welding people at the door, giving me information on policies and people to vote for. But none of that either. Seems the whole fanatical last minute attempts to win votes is a uniquely Australian thing too.

Anyhoo, my vote in the Australian election last year did nothing, and thus I will not have a say here in the UK either, this time.

I am back on a work assignment now, for 10 days. Different client, and different town. Getting used to different routines, places, and also a completely different scenario in that my client has his own family. I feel like I have walked into a weird share house situation, with extra duties!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Queens, Princesses and Scholars

More of the London sights with Michelle and Nat yesterday, in London. We headed into town early - for a Bank Holiday Monday, anyway! - for the changing of the guards in front of Buckingham Palace. We got our viewing spot at the entrance to one of the gates - but still didn't see everything. I don't know if there is a good spot to see what's going on in each part of the change. We certainly saw one band march in, then another, and then another. After some time in the sun, we then saw each band march out again! Is that it??!! I think I had expected more!! (more photos)

We took Michelle on a bit of a walking tour from there, and had lunch in a gorgeous pub near Trafalgar Square, and then headed to Hyde Park. Seemingly much bigger that Central Park in NYC (to me at least), the lawns were covered with Brits clamouring for the sun's rays.

Walking through the Park, we saw the disappointing Peter Pan statue, and the out-of-action Diana Memorial Fountain (dangerous concrete slippery dip, apparently!), before reaching Kensington Palace. We peeked in at the beautiful English Garden, the Orangery, and the entrance to the State Apartments.

Our day in the sun ended by joining Nat's friends Kimberley and John and Caitlin and Jack for a picnic at Clapham Common.

With poor Nat off to work today, Michelle and I headed off to Oxford for the day today - which was brilliant! After the one and a half hour train ride from Nat's, we wandered into town to discover all that was there to discover.

Stumbling across the Oxford Story exhibit, we hopped on the travelling desk for a little lesson in the town's history, and famous people. Oxford is the founding place of such amazing things as Louis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, the discovery of penicillin, Halley's discovery of his comet, among so many other things.

We then took in the tour of the beautiful building that is the Bodleian Library. Among the history and achitecture here, we also discovered that this is the site of Hogwart's Hospital and one of the classrooms in the Harry Potter films.

We then wandered around to have lunch at the Eagle and Child - the pub where CS Lewis and JRR Tolkein used to meet over several beers to discuss ideas and debate philosophy. A pint for us in the very room Middle Earth and Narnia was born! The 'bird and baby', as donned by our literary genuises.

The village town of Oxford is filled with colleges, which are housed in the old and beautiful buildings. Mnay of the colleges, such as New College and Magdelan College. One of the enchanting features of the architecture of these buildings is the cheeky gargoyles all around the walls of the buildings. Look at these guys! They are hilarious!!

Gargoyles along the wall of New College
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Before heading off back to London, we had a pint at the Turf Tavern. Place of our very own Bob Hawkes' Guiness Book of World Records (1963) skull of a yard glass of ale. No matter his politics, the young lad could drink! I took longer than Bob's 11 seconds to finish my pint.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Wandering along the Thames

Michelle is in London for the week, and so Nat and I took her out on her first sightseeing day. After getting in from Turkey really late, with several planes delays of several hours each, we had a slow start, but got a lot in, and soaked in quite a bit of that sunny London weather!! Can you believe it!!??

A look at Big Ben first after a ride on the tube for Shelly, we headed down along the Thames, and had lunch on the Queen Mary. Looking over the water, with the London Eye and Westminster in the background, the sunshine was lovely!

We then wondered further along the river, and walked over to see St Paul's Cathedral. Looks really beautiful inside, but will have to be for another visit, as a service was in progress when we got there. (more photos)

We then wondered across the Thames to see Shakespeare's Globe. Missing the last tour, we tried to peek inside, but will have to see it properly some other time. After this, we got to look at the amazing pictures of the Earth from the Air exhibition. Yann's photos are just incredible. Makes me want to go to so many more places!

Viewing the contrasting architecture around London, we headed towards the Tower Bridge, viewing the disappointing slab of concrete that is London Bridge - was it good before it fell down in the nursey rhyme??

Walking over Tower Bridge, and past the Tower of London, we then headed for Covent Garden for a beer for our weary bodies.

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